hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Monday, December 19, 2011
Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist

Paul Krugman - But I do know one and one is two. . .

Bill Keller (NYT) - The Pakistanis Have a Point
[Malik]: “If you are not able to close the Mexican border, when you have the technology at your call, when there is no war,” he said, “how can you expect us to close our border, especially if you are not locking the doors on your side?”

IAN AYRES and AARON S. EDLIN (NYT) - Don’t Tax the Rich. Tax Inequality Itself.

There may be better schemes, but Ayres & Edlin's proposal would be an improvement over the status quo.

TAMAR LEWIN (NYT) - M.I.T. Expands Its Free Online Courses

russell (Obsidian Wings) - will the last person to leave please turn out the lights....

Susie Madrak - Distress signal
Diane at Cabdrollery is in trouble, hanging by a financial thread. If you can spare even $10, go help.

DIANE - Will Blog For Food

The hammer fell again, this time harder than usual. The landlord has given me a 3 day notice, and I barely have enough money to get to the local DPSS office to see if I can get a Department 8 grant for this month and next month to offset some of the balance I now owe.

As some of you know, I've not been working for the past 6 weeks at all, which leaves only my Social Security, which would have been fine if I hadn't had a serious pulmonary problem develop, which even with Medicare has tapped me out with all the co-pays for the specialists, tests, and medications. I also have state bar dues to pay if I want/am able to work next year. The main problem is that I only have enough money for that visit to Pasadena tomorrow. The cat has food. I have very little.

What I need is a bunch of small donations from a lot of people. I know it's the wrong time of the year to be asking for this kind of help (as if there's a right time), but I need it and I need it quickly. Please help if you can.

This time I'm really scared.

Susie Madrak - Ash Wednesday

James Herriot - The best of James Herriot: favourite memories of a country vet
. . .The card dangled above the old lady's bed. It read `God is Near'. . .

. . .There wasn't much more Miss Stubbs could see; perhaps a few feet of privet hedge through the frayed curtains but mainly it was just the cluttered little room which had been her world for so many years. . .

. . .I had been visiting regularly for over a year and the pattern never changed; the furious barking, then Mrs Broadwith who looked after Miss Stubbs would push all the animals but my patient into the back kitchen and open the door and would go in and see Miss Stubbs in the corner in her bed with the card hanging over it.

She had been there for a long time and would never get up again. But she never mentioned her illness and pain to me; all her concern was for her three dogs and two cats. . .

. . .It was the usual scenario for the many cups of tea I had drunk with Miss Stubbs under the little card which dangled above her bed.

`How are you today?' I asked.

`Oh, much better,' she replied and immediately, as always, changed the subject. . .

. . .The things I had heard in the village came back to me; about the prosperous father and family who lived in the big house many years ago. Then the foreign investments which crashed and the sudden change in circumstances. `When t'owd feller died he was about skint,' one old man had said. `There's not much brass there now.'

Probably just enough brass to keep Miss Stubbs and her animals alive and to pay Mrs Broadwith. Not enough to keep the garden dug or the house painted or for any of the normal little luxuries. . .

. . .`Well, it was quick, Miss Stubbs, I'm sure the old chap didn't suffer at all.' My words sounded lame and ineffectual. . .

`You know, Mr. Herriot,' she said casually, `It will be my turn next.'. . .

. . .`I'm not afraid,' she said. `I know there's something better waiting for me. I've never had any doubts.' There was silence between us as she lay calmly looking up at the card on the gas bracket.

Then the head on the pillow turned to me again. `I have only one fear.' Her expression changed with startling suddenness as if a mask had dropped. The brave face was almost unrecognisable. A kind of terror flickered in her eyes and she quickly grasped my hand.

`It's my dogs and cats, Mr. Heriot. I'm afraid I might never see them when I'm gone and it worries me so. You see, I know I'll be reunited with my parents and my brothers but. . .but. . .'

`Well, why not with your animals?'

`That's just it.' She rocked her head on the pillow and for the first time I saw tears on her cheeks. `The say animals have no souls.'

`Who says?'

`Oh, I've read it and I know a lot of religious people believe it.'

`Well I don't believe it.' I patted the hand which still grasped mine. `If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. . .

. . .The tension left her face and she laughed with a return of her old spirit. `I'm sorry to bore you with this and I'm not going to talk about it again. But before you go, I want you to be absolutely honest with me. I don't want reassurance from you - just the truth. I know you are very young but please tell me - what are your beliefs? Will my animals go with me?'

She stared intently into my eyes. I shifted in my chair and swallowed once or twice.

`Miss Stubbs, I'm afraid I'm a bit foggy about all this,' I said. `But I'm absolutely certain of one thing. Wherever you are going, they are going too.'

She still stared at me but her face was calm again. `Thank you, Mr. Herriot, I know you are being honest with me. That is what you really believe, isn't it?'

`I do believe it,' I said. `With all my heart I believe it.'. . .

MIT Shakespeare homepage - Hamlet
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

So have I heard and do in part believe it.
But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill:
Break we our watch up; and by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen to-night
Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most conveniently.


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